Food in a Box.

There is an idea I am living with that if my food comes in a box, then it is not food, it is poison.
If there are more than three ingredients on the side of the box or can or package, it is poison.
If I have a hard time pronouncing the ingredients, then it must be poison.

About my only exception is bacon, I love bacon, but not with sugar in it.

So fast food is designed to be eatable, not healthy, but addictively tasty, thank you sugar.
Sugar is hidden from view in many of these boxes, in insidious hidden forms.

  • Agave nectar
  • Barley malt
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Panocha

But I digress, this is not going to be a hit piece on sugar.

We need food like we need learning. How much of our learning, though, is packaged food that feels like learning, but is full of unhealthy carbs, information that does not take us very far.

Let’s start with the example of the book.

Pick up any Christian Book, or secular one for that matter, and they are generally 200 to 300 pages long. From Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” or Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Both of these books can be reduced to less than a page.

5 love languages.

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Gifts
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Quality time
  5. Physical touch 

7 Habits

  1. Sharpen the saw. 
  2. Be proactive. 
  3. Begin with an end in mind.
  4. Put first things first.
  5. Think win-win.
  6. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. 
  7. Synergize.

There is a little bit more to each book than that, but if you want to synthesize the books into your life, to make them a viable contributor to your daily decision making, then what I have above is what you will need.

Why 300 Pages?

  • The purpose of the 300 page book is more about making you feel that you got value for your money than imparting more information. 
  • The stories and anecdotes are useful only to the degree that they help you build the list in your mind for later use. 

The theories and references, chapters long, are more about making the material appear valid so that you will praise the book. 

  • The successfulness and usefulness of a book is if you have been able to take something, 
    • some list, 
    • some set of ideas, 
    • work them into your life, 
  • apply them to your daily routine, 
  • evaluate them to see if they have made a desired positive difference, 
  • then refine the list for daily consumption.

Too often our sense of successfulness is not that we have something to apply in our lives, but just that we can say we have read the book.

This is one reason why I have been finding it harder and harder to read books, not because there is no learning in them, but because the author and the publisher have been manipulated but the thinking of this age, and have hidden their ‘list’ so that it is hard to find, maybe on purpose, maybe totally unaware, just following a prescribed pattern of how to write a book.

There is a similar thing in many courses and individual lectures.

To have the appearance of value for money, there must be so many hours of lectures. A lecture must run for so long. 

How many of our lectures are more about duration and showmanship than content? Even then how much of discipleship is content? If the endpoint of discipleship is a person with the character of Jesus, is that not more about relationships than content? 

It’s kind of hard to develop relationships where everyone in the room is merely looking at the back of the head of the person in front of them, that 95% of the time only one person is talking. In this setting, too often, ask the listener, “What was today’s lecture about”, and the reply is, “It was really good, praise God!”

Too many of our lectures leave us with a great feeling but no hooks of information to develop our discipleship with.

I would like to envision a lecture where 

  • the person has prayed, 
  • has found God’s heart, 
  • comes in, writes five points on the whiteboard, 
  • and there is the lecture.

Now they can 

  • present scriptures, 
  • they can weave stories, 
  • they can pontificate, 
  • they can challenge, 
  • they can elaborate deeper into the point, 
  • they can lecture, 
  • they can ramble, 
    • all of these things being useful to reinforce the five points.

The idea of the lecture is not to fill an allocated time but to leave students with things to ruminate on. Therefore the lecture is to reinforce the five points, or seven or three, not to show how erudite you are.

Too many of our lectures are like packages of food with dozens of ingredients, many unreadable, hidden, disguised.

Like this food, the expectation is that we need to be getting value for our money, we want volume, and so we get it, more food than we need to eat, made of ingredients that are doing us more harm than good. 

Our lectures and schools are trying to be good, but are following a similar model. We have volume, we are overfed, but can the content be synthesized down to its essence that people can carry around in their mind?

I have listened to a number of Robbie Zacharias podcasts. One thing I have done is to synthesize all I have heard from him to this statement, that I can pretty much write from memory.

  • In the assertion of a thing as being true, is it
    • Logically consistent
    • Empirically adequate
    • Experientially relevant

Now at night, as I go to sleep, I can rerun the day’s tape, and play it back against these simple statements of Robbies. How true are the things I have said, have had said to me,  have passed through my life today?

I can play the same tape against the five love languages and consider if I have been interacting with people using their love language.

Here is another idea from the life of Jesus.

  • Jesus never reacted.
  • Jesus was always proactive.
    • From the clearing of the temple
    • To the barbed questions of the Pharisees
    • To Judases kiss
    • Jesus was always ahead of the game, even when he did not know what was coming next.
  • Jesus had a presupposition of love.
    • He did not live out of Self Gratification
    • He did not love out of Self Preservation

So I run my daily tape against this.

Am I living from Love or Self Gratification/Self Preservation?

Imagine a lecture of “Walking in the Sandals of Jesus.” With all manner of wise stories about how sandals were made, what they meant, how washing the feet was so important after a day’s travel. All the while, on a whiteboard there are these three points:

  • Jesus had a presupposition of love.
    • He did not live out of Self Gratification
    • He did not love out of Self Preservation

Have I followed my own rules?

There are over 1,200 words here, did you get bored reading this?

So here is the conclusion.

  • We live by idea worms
  • Less is more.
  • What essence do you live with?
  • Do you review your day, in the theater of your mind against your essential ideas?
  • As a teacher,
    • Have you obscured your wisdom?
  • As a learner,
    • Are you distilling wisdom?

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